Zesty Refrigerator Zucchini Pickles
These quick zucchini pickles are a little sweet, a tad spicy, and the perfect way to use up that zucchini harvest. If you have zucchini coming out of your ears this summer and are tired of making zucchini bread and zucchini muffins, these pickles are an awesome choice!
Years ago, my father-in-law planned and planted a massive garden in his backyard and brought us an assortment of fresh produce every week, and, like any garden, it always produced an abundance of zucchini to share.
After roasting them as a side dish, stuffing them for a main dish, and making zucchini bread, I wanted to try something different and made these zucchini pickles. They are refrigerator pickles, which means they are quick, easy, and incredibly tasty, as well as perfect for anyone who is a beginner to pickling and canning.
They are also a riff on the classic flavors of bread and butter pickles, which I love so much!
Picking the Perfect Zucchini
Much like when cooking or baking with zucchini, the best ones to choose are the smaller to medium-sized ones.
When zucchini get too large, they are tougher, have bigger seeds, and have a “chewier” texture. The smaller ones are better for a crisp texture and have smaller seeds.
For this recipe, I slice the zucchini extremely thin, which you can do by hand with a knife or use a mandoline. You can also slice the zucchini into spears.
Prepping the Zucchini
The first thing you will do is soak the sliced zucchini and onions in a saltwater brine for 1 hour.
The purpose of this saltwater soaking, which I also do with my bread and butter pickles, is to pull out excess water from the zucchini before pickling, which helps to prevent soggy pickles!
The Pickling Liquid and Spices
Next, it’s time to make the brine. To do so, we combine the following ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for just a few minutes:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Sugar (regular white, granulated sugar)
- Dry mustard
- Yellow mustard seeds
- Crushed red pepper flakes (optional, but gives the pickles a nice kick!)
You can create your own pickling liquid based on your own flavor preferences! I recommend keeping the same vinegar to sugar ratio (2 cups vinegar to 1 cup sugar), but then feel free to play around. Here are some ideas:
- Vinegar – Use white vinegar, white wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar. Really any other will work other than very concentrated types like balsamic vinegar.
- Black peppercorns
- Cloves of garlic
- Dill seed or fresh dill
- Celery seed
- Allspice berries
- Whole cloves
- Cinnamon sticks
- Bay leaves
- Coriander seeds
Making the Pickles
The beauty of these pickles is how quickly and easily they come together! Here are the few steps that are left:
- Drain the zucchini and onions from the saltwater brine and remove all excess moisture. You can do this by using a salad spinner or rolling up the mixture in clean dish towels lined with paper towels.
- Place the zucchini and onion mixture in a quart-size jar or divide it between two pint jars.
- Pour the pickling liquid over the top of the zucchini mixture, making sure it is completely covered, then place the lids on the jars.
- Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating to allow the flavors to really develop.
How to Serve Zucchini Pickles
You can use these zucchini pickles anywhere you would typically put regular cucumber pickles! Here are a few ideas:
- Burgers (like cast iron skillet cheeseburgers)
- BBQ sandwiches (try this easy pulled pork recipe)
- Lunchmeat sandwiches
- Charcuterie boards
More Fantastic Pickle Recipes:
- Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles
- Quick and Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
- Classic Dill Pickles (for canning)
Watch How to Make Zucchini Pickles:
If you make this zucchini pickle recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️
Refrigerator Zucchini Pickles
- ½ cup (120 ml) water, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 medium zucchini, about 1 pound, sliced ⅛-inch thick
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced ⅛-inch thick
- 3 ice cubes
- 2 cups (480 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup (198 g) granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons ground mustard
- 1½ teaspoons mustard seed
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- In a small bowl, stir together the water and kosher salt until the salt has dissolved.
- Place the zucchini and onion into a gallon zipper freezer bag. Add the water and salt solution, the ice cubes, and additional cold water to cover the zucchini and onions. Stir to combine. Seal the bag and allow to sit for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustards, turmeric and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to be sure that the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Drain the zucchini mixture in a colander and remove all excess moisture, either by putting it through a salad spinner or rolling it up in a clean kitchen towel lined with paper towels.
- Place the zucchini mixture in a large jar (or multiple smaller jars) and pour the pickling liquid over top, ensuring that all of the zucchini mixture is covered in liquid. Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate for at least 1 day before serving. The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
- Zucchini: Use small to medium-sized zucchini for pickles that have more crunch and smaller seeds.
- Pickling Liquid: See above for suggestions on how you can change the flavors!
- Jars: You can store this entire recipe in a quart-size jar or you can divide it between two pint-size jars.
- Storage: These pickles will keep in your refrigerator for up to 1 month.
- Long-Term Storage: This pickle recipe is not meant for long-term storage, so you should not can it or store it at room temperature for any length of time.